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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ray Donovan 1.7 and Whitey Bulger

Just as Showtime's Ray Donovan is really picking up steam, the Whitey Bulger trial in Boston comes to a head with a verdict.   Showtime must be delighted with the coincidence - it almost makes up for the Showtime (Viacom-CBS) dispute with Time Warner which has deprived New York City viewers of Ray Donovan, Dexter, and much more.  On that issue, I say a pox on both your houses - Viacom and Time Warner, you both are worth billions, give the viewers a break, one or both of you accept a little less, and get on with it.  (See my comments on this in The Christian Science Monitor.)  But I digress--

The oldsters on Ray Donovan have been stealing the show from the beginning, even though Liev Schreiber as Ray has been superb, and the rest of the cast has been outstanding, too.  But Elliot Gould as Ezra dominates every scene he's in with his old Jewish delivery, and Jon Voight as Mickey lights up the series with one of the best performances of his long career.

I've long been a James Woods fan, and have not been disappointed with his characteristically quirky, powerful performance as Sully.  Usually Woods plays a somewhat good guy with a big edge of evil - think of his riveting performance in The Specialist (1994 movie) or his Roy Cohn role Citizen Cohn (1992 movie) - but as Sully he reverses that with a dollop of good amidst a fundamentally evil man.

Just as dogs played a role in Bulger and his girlfriend's relationship, so does a dog figure in Sully and his wife's daily life - as she points out, only Sully can get their pooch to go.  But this same Sully who has a way with animals is Ray's go-to man for the murder of Mickey.  Bulger is said to have been the template for the Frank Costello character (played by Jack Nicholson) in The Departed, but he surely was the inspiration for Sully, too, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Woods play that out.

And where does this leave us regarding Ray?  Abby says for the first time that Ray hates Mickey because Mickey killed Ray's girlfriend - that would be why Ray was happy to have Mickey take the fall for the killing that Sean Stevens did - but it's hard to believe that Ray didn't kill Mickey immediately after Mickey killed Ray's girlfriend (if indeed Mickey did).  This leaves Ray's ultimate motivation and hated of Mickey still in question, and we may well not find out much more about that this season.

But that's ok.  Ray Donovan, whatever exactly that show is, is clearly a series that bears many years of viewing.

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